Where: Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre
Rating: Three stars (out of five)
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There was a distinct flair for the dramatic inside the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Saturday, all thanks to the four sweet-singing guys in The Tenors.
Victor Micallef, Remigio Pereira, Fraser Walters, and Vancouver Island’s own Clifton Murray form the core of the group, which was backed by a full band for their stop at the Blanshard Street arena. A sensory experience it wound up being: Not only was it emotionally over the top, it left no two-Kleenex ballad unsung.
That’s the currency of this “poperatic” quartet, one of the many worldwide to assemble together a group of good looking, strong singers who balance the classical with the current. They aren’t the first to do it, nor will they be the last — or even the best.
Like many a good Canadian, they are simply taking an opportunity and running with it.
The Tenors were formerly the Canadian Tenors, a trio which got its start — albeit with an entirely different lineup — in the Garden City back in 2003.
That was a lifetime ago in comparison to the Vancouver-Los Angeles-Toronto membership that performed Saturday before a subdued but satisfied crowd of 3,857.
The group was in constant pursuit of an over-arching emotional impact. With that as the guard rail by which the concert charted its course, theirs was a performance built for maximum show-stopping effect.
Sometimes that worked, sometimes that didn’t.
The group made good use of its sparsely accented stage, one that was adorned with four pillared tapestries. The columns gave the stage an almost cathedral look — helpful, indeed, when the group was singing many of its hymn-like songs.
In groups such as this, it is important to present a unified front. And yet, The Tenors also made a point of showcasing each singer’s unique personality and taste. Singing was but one of their many tricks. Lead With Your Heart, the night’s second song, featured Walters on piano, while Pereira played a Spanish guitar early and often.
The two-hour performance ran the gamut in terms of its song selection, from Bob Dylan’s Forever Young to Bring Him Home from Les Misérables.
Trying to cover all the bases proved difficult. Backed by their sizable band, the group came together as one for the first time on Anchor Me, which arrived near the end of the night’s first set.
The group made up for lost time at the start of the latter half.
They returned to the stage like conquering heroes, descending a flight of stairs — costumes changed — swamped by a fog machine and amid the sounds of the Vancouver Island Symphonic Choir.
A prolonged bit about their adventures promoting their new album gained little traction in the banter department; sadly, tales of their G-rated Vegas adventures ate up too much time with not enough payoff.
They didn’t recover from that misfire quickly enough, and turned in a sloppy rendition of Elvis Presley’s I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.
If there’s one inherent flaw with The Tenors, it is their mandate to be all things to all people.
They sang Amazing Grace, and they sang The Lord’s Prayer; they also tackled Leonard Cohen and the Rankin Family. The through line connecting these is a bit of a stretch, to say the least.
World Stand Still, a song they described as the “furthest pop” the quartet had ever gone, may have been the night’s best moment. That the tune (which they co-wrote) sounded like the power ballad next-of-kin to Avril Lavigne’s I’m With You had no bearing on its moving outcome. The group nailed it.
“I am super pumped,” Murray said at one point. “I am home.”
The native of Port McNeill, who spent his young adulthood in Victoria, was the unsung star of the night, with plenty of family and friends in the house. He was the picture of class, thanking his parents and sister along with two of his former Brentwood College teachers, basketball coach Clayton Johnston and musical theatre director Edna Widenmaier.
The Tenors are nothing if not extremely nice guys. But with that reputation comes the assumption there is more than meets the eye.
At this stage, that isn’t entirely the case.
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